US markets dip after a lag in high-flying tech stocks, while European stocks trade higher on reopening confidence

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US markets edged lower on Tuesday after mega-cap technology stocks dropped despite largely upbeat quarterly results over the past week.

Futures on the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq fell between 0.1% and 0.3%, suggesting a weaker start to trade at the opening bell later.

Declines in shares of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, and Microsoft have weighed on the broader market. Chipmakers have also been under pressure, as the current semiconductor shortage is having tremendous impacts on lead times and pricing, according to Deutsche Bank strategists.

“There appears to be a general inflation of prices across most, if not all, supply lines,” they said. “This dovetails with what many companies are reporting during this earnings season, and has caused more than a few to lower production guidance for 2021, even as consumer demand continues to rebound with the overall economy.”

But with results in from a majority of the S&P 500 names, 85% of companies have beaten expectations.

UBS chief investment officer Mark Haefele said investors should be careful to avoid over-allocating to mega-cap tech companies in their portfolios. “In an environment of accelerating growth, we continue to prefer cyclical and value sectors such as financials and energy, while positioning for long-term structural growth in industries which could provide ‘The Next Big Thing’,” he said.

The US dollar rallied after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the US economic outlook has “clearly brightened,” but has been slower for those in lower-paid jobs. In terms of rising house prices, Powell cited a sharp increase in demand fueled by low mortgage rates and fiscal stimulus. He expects “it is going to be a tight housing market for some time now because demand is just very, very high.”

Jerome Powell
Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Across the pond, the European Commission is proposing a travel plan that would replace the current blanket ban for non-essential travel to the region that has been in place for about a year, according to the Guardian. People who have been fully vaccinated from countries with low infection rates could be allowed to travel to the EU by the start of June under a proposed vaccine passport system.

In the UK, a string of local and regional elections will be taking place on Thursday after being delayed last year due to the pandemic. The Bank of England will announce its latest monetary policy decision the same day.

“In terms of when they might begin to taper their Quantitative Easing operations, (economists) think it’s a close call between May and June, but ultimately the BoE will wait until June,” Deutsche strategists said.

London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6%, the Euro Stoxx 50 was about flat, and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2%.

Activity in Asian markets was somewhat muted by holidays in China and Japan on Tuesday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.8%.

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S&P 500 hits record amid higher-than-expected jobless claims and continued Fed support

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on December 07, 2018 in New York City
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange .

  • The S&P 500 stretched further in record highs Thursday as the Federal Reserve signaled it will accommodate conditions for economic growth.
  • Technology stocks tracked on the Nasdaq Composite led gainers.
  • Jobless claims rose to 744,000, pointing to persistently high unemployment levels.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US stocks hung around record highs Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a new high after insight from the Federal Reserve indicated that monetary policy makers will maintain their stance in supporting growth in the world’s largest economy as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The S&P 500 index pushed further into record-high territory after reaching a closing peak in the previous session. Technology stocks marched up but blue-chip stocks tracked on the Dow Jones Industrial Average tilted slightly lower.

Stock futures ahead of the open showed little reaction to the Labor Department’s report that weekly jobless claims rose to 744,000, higher than the 680,000 claims expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The report indicated that unemployment remains at persistently high levels, with the previous week’s reading upwardly revised to 728,000 from 719,000.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday:

Members of the Fed’s rate-setting board expect “it would likely be some time until substantial further progress” on reaching targets of maximum employment and above-2% inflation, according to the minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee’s mid-March meeting released Wednesday.

“FOMC members were quite positive on short-term growth prospects, but made quite clear that short-term acceleration only goes so far towards their long-term “full employment” goal, suggesting even if growth remains robust through 2Q 2021, we’ll still be in a waiting pattern for Fed policy,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, told Insider in emailed comments.

“On balance, there was nothing material in the minutes which changes my view of a reduction in [quantitative easing] beginning in early-2022 followed by a potential first rate hike in late-2022,” said LeBas. “I view a 2022 QE reduction as much more likely than a 2022 rate hike,” he said. “If anything, the first hike will be later and the path of hikes steeper than what the markets have currently priced.”

Around the markets, GameStop shares rose after the video game retailer said it plans to elect Reddit favorite Ryan Cohen as chairman.

Trading app Robinhood reportedly failed to disclose data on certain stock trades for more than a year.

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel warned bitcoin might serve as a Chinese financial weapon against the US – and says it threatens the dollar.

Gold rose 0.6% to $1,753.20 per ounce. Long-dated US Treasury yields fell, with the 10-year yield down at 1.647%.

Oil prices were mixed. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 1% to trade at $59.23 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, dropped 0.6%, to $62.76 per barrel.

Bitcoin rose 2.1% to $57,546.

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Dow drops 308 points as rising COVID-19 cases cloud economic-recovery optimism

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 20, 2019 in New York City
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

  • The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average mark their third declines in four sessions.
  • European COVID-19 cases are rising and spurring more lockdowns in the region.
  • US economic recovery continues but is ‘far from complete,’ says Fed Chairman Powell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US stocks dropped Tuesday as a rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe stoked concerns about the path for recovery in the global economy from the pandemic.

All three of Wall Street’s major indexes fell, with losses picking up pace in afternoon dealings. The S&P 500 and the Dow industrials declined for the third time in four sessions. Tech stocks as tracked on the Nasdaq Composite lost grip of earlier gains.

Stocks struggled in the face of rising coronavirus cases in Europe. The higher case counts have prompted Germany, Europe’s largest economy, to order lockdown measures over Easter and France has enacted more restrictions in the country.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Tuesday:

Meanwhile, Italy has issued new lockdowns. In the UK, the government in an effort to control cases is seeking to impose a £5,000 fine ($7,000) on people traveling outside of England without a valid reason. The worsening conditions in Europe pressured the demand outlook for oil, sending Brent oil prices sharply lower.

The US economy is seeing a lower amount of COVID-19 cases compared with Europe, alongside encouraging data and an improved rate of vaccinations, said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday.

“But the recovery is far from complete,” he cautioned in remarks prepared for testimony to the House Financial Services Committee. The Fed “will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.”

AstraZeneca shares fell after US health officials raised questions about the drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccine, saying the company could have used some outdated trial data in its update about the formula.

GameStop fell before the video game retailer late Tuesday releases its first quarterly financial report since its Reddit-fueled rally in January. Meanwhile, Melvin Capital, the hedge fund at the heart of the GameStop frenzy, is facing nine lawsuits from retail investors who alleged a conspiracy to limit trading caused them to lose money.

While stocks have pulled back in recent session, the market’s fear gauge, the Cboe VIX Volatility Index, is back at pre-pandemic lows, and it’s signaling big upside ahead, says Fundstrat’s Tom Lee.

Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital and investment firm First Trust Advisors have applied for regulatory approval for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

Oil prices tumbled, with West Texas Intermediate crude down 6% to $57.60 per barrel. Brent, oil’s international benchmark, was down 6.5% to $60.47.

Gold fell 0.6% to $1,727 per ounce as US treasury yields eased.

Bitcoin lost 2.5%, to trade at $55,328.

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Treasury yields spike to highest in 14 months, pulling tech stocks down while boosting banks

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Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

  • The 10-year Treasury yield pushed past 1.7% on Thursday, marking a fresh 14-month high for the benchmark note.
  • The 30-year yield also made a notable move by rising to 2.5% for the first time in more than a year.
  • Tech stocks were losing ground but bank shares advanced on the back of richer yields.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Borrowing costs quickly picked up pace Thursday as the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield surged to a fresh 14- month high, with the move pressuring tech stocks but bolstering bank shares.

The 10-year yield climbed to an intraday high of 1.754%, a leap of nine basis points since ending at 1.64% on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the 30-year yield on Thursday rose to 2.5% for the first time since August 2019. That yield on Wednesday settled at 2.437%.

Investors keep a close watch on long-dated yields as they are tied to a range of lending programs such as mortgages and auto loans. Yields have been rising, while bonds sell off, as investors continue to price in expectations of higher inflation as the US economy recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.

But the increase in borrowing costs has stoked selling in growth stocks, including large-cap tech stocks that have run up over the past year. Thursday’s moves included Apple falling by 2.3%, Google’s parent company Alphabet down by 1.1%, and Microsoft losing 1.7%. The Nasdaq Composite, home to numerous tech stocks, lost 1.4%, and the S&P 500‘s information technology sector slumped 1.5%.

The 10-year yield on Wednesday reached its highest since January 2020 as investors positioned themselves before the Federal Reserve released its policy decision and economic projections. The central bank’s upgraded economic outlook included its view that gross domestic product will expand by 6.5% this year, up from the prior estimate of 4.2%. The 10-year yield pulled back from the 1.6% area during Wednesday’s session before roaring higher again on Thursday.

“Right now the market is pricing in a rate hike in the latter half of 2022, which we think is very early and, in fact, it’s nearly mathematically impossible for the Fed to hike in 2022 if they truly intend to look past transitory inflation,” Calvin Norris, US rates strategist at Aegon Asset Management, told Insider on Thursday. “What the market is implying is the Fed is going to cave on this persistency-of-inflation idea.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday reiterated the central bank’s stance of allowing inflation to rise past 2% to support growth in the labor market and the economy before it starts raising interest rates.

While tech stocks sold off, bank stocks charged up, with Bank of America gaining 4.1%. Banks aim to lend money on long-term rates and the increase in long-dated yields improves their prospects for growth in interest income.
Wells Fargo climbed 3.8% and JPMorgan Chase popped up 3.5%.

Also, the Invesco KBW Bank ETF tacked on 3% and the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF gained 3.2%.

“While it’s difficult to say when this might occur but we’re kind of setting the stage for some type of counter-trend rally here in Treasuries,” said Norris. “Treasuries are oversold, sentiment is extremely bearish, Treasuries are very cheap to foreign buyers,” he said.

“I think the market is trying to challenge the Fed. But if you do believe the Fed and the projections for growth and inflation, valuations look very attractive at these levels. Not to say that they can’t get cheaper and be more attractive but we’re at those levels that I think it’s difficult to add to short positions in here,” Norris added.

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Dow, S&P 500 close at records after Fed upgrades its growth outlook and indicates no rates hikes until 2023

Barclays Traders NYSE
  • The Dow and the S&P 500 closed at new records after the Federal Reserve reiterated an accommodative policy stance as the economy recovers.
  • It’s “not yet” time for the Fed to start talking about reducing asset purchases, says Fed Chairman Powell.
  • The 10-year yield eased back from its highest level in 14 months.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US stocks turned higher Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 closing at new record highs. Tech stocks recovered after the Federal Reserve reiterated its pledge to continue supporting the US economy as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nasdaq Composite reversed course after losing more than 1% during the session and the S&P 500 clawed out of negative territory during afternoon trading. The run higher in stocks during the session came after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said it was “not yet” time to begin discussions about tapering its purchases of bonds and other securities.

“We want to see that labor market conditions have made substantial progress toward maximum employment and inflation has made substantial progress toward the 2% goal,” Powell said in an afternoon press conference. “When we see actual data coming in that suggests that we’re on track…then we’ll say so,” and “well in advance of any decision to actually taper.”

The Fed at its policy meeting ended Wednesday left its benchmark interest rate unchanged, as expected. The Fed currently buys $120 billion a month in assets in part to help keep the financial system running smoothly as the worldwide pandemic persists.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 4 p.m. ET at the close on Wednesday:

Investors had earlier shoved down high-performing tech stocks as borrowing costs increased as implied by the 10-year Treasury yield. The yield approached 1.7% and reached its highest level since January 2020, which was before the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic.

The Fed upgraded its economic projections including its view that gross domestic product will expand by 6.5% this year, up from the prior estimate of 4.2%. Economists have said the vaccinations of millions of Americans and the $1.9 billion fiscal stimulus package from Washington are key factors in driving economic recovery. The Fed also indicated that no rate hikes will take place before 2023.

In equities, Uber fell over 4% after the company said late Tuesday it will reclassify drivers in the United Kingdom as “workers,” guaranteeing them minimum wage, paid vacation and other benefits.

Plug Power shares tumbled as much as 23% after the hydrogen fuel-cell company said it will restate some of its financial reports because of accounting errors.

Legendary investor Bill Gross said he’s betting against GameStop stock again after walking away from January’s wild volatility with $10 million.

Meanwhile, short bets on the stock market may be bottoming out as indexes hit record highs, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Gold rose 1.09% to $1,751.05 per ounce. Long-dated US treasury yields rose.

Oil prices fell. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.46% to $64.64 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, dropped 0.55%, to $68.06 per barrel.

Bitcoin rose as much as 4.4% to $58,184.

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The Fed needs to convince stock investors that their rate hike expectations are priced in ‘too aggressively’, Barclays says

Federal Reserve
  • The Federal Reserve will hold its two-day meeting on March 16 and 17.
  • The Fed has work in relaying its message that pricing of rate-hike expectations is too aggressive, says Barclays.
  • Large-cap tech and growth stocks may continue to see underperformance, the bank’s head of US stock trading says.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Federal Reserve will likely keep working to convince equity investors that expectations are being priced in “too aggressively” for when the central bank will start raising interest rates and how fast those changes will occur, according to the US head of stock trading at Barclays.

The Fed’s two-day meeting starting on March 16 will be held at a time of notable rotations in equity markets, spurred in part the quick rise in borrowing rates this year as tracked by some Treasury yields. Yields have pushed higher in part as investors anticipate a rise in inflation as the US economy recovers from the COVID-19 health crisis.

As yields climb, so do expectations for when the Fed will start raising its benchmark interest rate which currently sits at a range of 0%-0.25%.

Growth in the world’s largest economy is a supportive factor for stocks, and rising rates to reflect growth “shouldn’t be a headwind for equities,” said Michael Lewis, head of US cash equities trading at Barclays, during the bank’s teleconference about inflation on Tuesday.

But “the velocity of the move in rates that we saw, or the rate of change in the move that we saw, spooked equity investors,” he said.

Lewis said he recalled at the start of 2021 seeing about 31.5 basis points of rate hikes priced into year-end 2023, “and then we went almost to above 90 in just a handful of weeks. That’s a massive move in terms of what people are expecting the Fed to do, what the market is pricing in,” he said. “And if you are going to get hikes to that degree and velocity and in that timeframe, that is negative for equities.”

However, “if you look at the dot-plot, there’s no liftoff expected through 2023, it’s in 2024,” he said. The dot-plot is the Fed’s way of signaling its interest-rate outlook.

“So the real job…is for the Fed to walk people off that cliff,” he said, adding that a lot of the central bank’s commentary so far “hasn’t been successful in convincing the markets that they are pricing in these expectations a little too aggressively.”

Lewis expects the Fed “will find a way to walk that back”, including discussing at next week’s meeting its preferred inflation measure, the PCE price index. That index “is a good 30 to 40 [basis points] lower” than the consumer price index. Also, the Fed can discuss near-term inflation versus longer-term inflation, he said.

Looking ahead, Lewis said he expects investors to continue to see large-cap tech and growth stocks underperform over the course of the next 12 to 18 months in favor of more cyclical-type stocks.

“But given the velocity and the rate of change that we’ve seen in the rates market …counterintuitively over the next week or two if you see a bounce in equity markets, it’s going to be led by growth and tech,” because of their recent and steep selloffs, he said.

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Monetary stimulus will remain in place well into economic recovery, Fed Chair Powell says

jerome powell fed mask
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated Thursday that the central bank is far from tapering its asset purchases or raising interest rates.
  • “Now is not the time to be talking about an exit” from easy monetary policy, the central bank chief said in a virtual discussion.
  • The comments come after various Fed officials suggested that inflation could pick up faster than expected and, in turn, prompt an early rate hike.
  • Powell rebuffed fears of an unexpected policy shift, noting the central bank will notify the public “well in advance” if it is considering changes to its policy stance.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Those worrying the Federal Reserve will prematurely rein in monetary stimulus have little to fear, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday.

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the country, investors and economists have looked to Fed officials for any hints as to when its extremely accommodative policy stance could reach its conclusion. The central bank is currently buying $120 billion worth of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities each month to ease market functioning, and its benchmark interest rate remains near zero to encourage borrowing.

An unexpected reversal from such easy monetary conditions risks spooking financial markets and cutting into the country’s bounce-back. Powell emphasized on Thursday that the central bank remains far from adjusting monetary conditions and that markets need not worry about a surprise policy shift.

“Now is not the time to be talking about an exit,” the central bank chief said in a virtual discussion hosted by Princeton University. “I think that is another lesson of the global financial crisis, is be careful not to exit too early. And by the way, try not to talk about exit all the time if you’re not sending that signal.”

Read more: ‘Vastly technically disconnected’: A market strategist breaks down the 3 indicators that show Tesla is overpriced – and says it’s due for a 17% correction in the next 6 weeks

The messaging mirrors past statements from Fed policymakers. Early in the pandemic, Powell told reporters the central bank wasn’t “thinking about thinking about” lifting interest rates. The Federal Open Market Committee noted last month that changes to its policy stance won’t arrive until “substantial forward progress” toward its inflation and employment objectives is made.

Still, recent commentary from some officials has stoked some fears that the Fed could cut down on the pace of its asset purchases sooner than expected. Kansas City Fed President Esther George said Tuesday that inflation could reach the Fed’s target “more quickly than some might expect” if the economy’s hardest hit sectors quickly recover.

A swifter-than-expected rebound could prompt an interest-rate hike as early as mid-2022 Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said Monday. The projection stands in contrast with the FOMC’s general expectation for rates to remain near zero through 2023.

Powell reassured that, when the Fed starts considering a more hawkish stance, messaging will come well before action is taken. Treasury yields responded in kind, with the 10-year yield climbing nearly 4 basis points to 1.127 and the 30-year yield rising about 6 basis points to 1.874.

“We’ll communicate very clearly to the public and we’ll do so, by the way, well in advance of active consideration of beginning a gradual taper of asset purchases,” the Fed chair said.

Read more: Morgan Stanley says to buy these 26 economically sensitive stocks poised to outperform as oil prices spike 10% by year-end

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